Today’s guest is Julie Anne Lindsey. Julie is a wife, a homeschooling mother of 3, and all around caffeine addict. She is an unpublished author, blogging her journey at Musings from the Slush Pile, where she also shares personal experience, book reviews, author interviews, contests/giveaways, and opening chapters from her works.
I met Julie through the amazing social network that is Twitter. Visit Musings…I know you’ll love her novel excerpts and all the great advice. And…follow Julie via Twitter here.
By Julie Lindsey
“I found my home address, my birthday, and a bunch of other stuff, “Pixie said over my shoulder. “I even found a mom with my name and a very boring blog. What about you?”
We had one simple assignment, Google our names.
“I can’t find anything about me at all, or my dad, or my mom’s death. I am going to fail.” My head hit the desktop.
“That’s weird.” Pixie shrugged. She snapped her gum and adjusted the knee high socks beneath her pleated skirt, then left. Somehow the concept of a uniform was lost on a girl with black angled hair and blue tips. Nothing could cause Pixie to blend in. Regardless, she was completely finished. I was stuck.
Eventually boredom and a super sized crush had me typing my professor’s name into the search engine. Bryan Petit was all that I could think about lately, and I laughed when I saw a photo of a 92 year old man appear online. Then, I saw him. My professor stood beside this old man in a photograph for the obituary. The caption said that his name was Nicholas Austen, Bryan Petit’s grandson.
Immediately, I Googled Nicholas Austen, and my breath caught. He wasn’t a professor. According to the Internet, he was a war veteran and D.C.’s youngest U.S. Marshal. It was no surprise to me that he was something more, but why was he teaching English at an all girl school? I wondered if it had anything to do with the killer that the media had been speculating about recently. Was my professor some kind of amped up school security?
The Francine Frances Academy was a prestigious and private venue. Getting accepted there was like solidifying my enrollment to the law school of my choice. Outside of academic credentials, I couldn’t see the draw. The remote little community had a volunteer fire department and no local sheriff. I doubted that there was need for a Marshal.
I pondered the implication intently. Any details on my crush were warmly welcomed. I pounded a rhythm against my lips with a pen. What was he up to?
“Elle?” A hand on my shoulder sent me flying.
I slammed my thighs into the underside of the desk and cried, “Ahh!”
Bryan, I mean, Nicholas was staring down at me bemused. “Are you alright?” he asked, still smiling.
“Are you trying to kill me?” I asked, utterly embarrassed. I shut my laptop immediately.
“Do you know what time it is?” He asked. His eyes made the circuit around the empty room continuously.
“It’s after midnight. Just because the school’s library is open until two, doesn’t mean that you should be here until then.” The carefree tone didn’t match his fathomless expression. He could have been preparing to protect me from a pack of wild animals, or a small militia.
Was it really midnight? My watch gave confirmation. I wondered how long ago Pixie left? The night had gotten away from me. Solving the mystery of professor hawtee had me feeling discombobulated.
“What are you doing here?” I asked, realizing that I had more reason to be there than he did. I doubted that he was paid to teach all day and then patrol the campus all night too.
“Can I give you a ride home?” He ignored my question.
That would be sure to send tongues wagging. Giving his student a ride home at midnight seemed like a bad idea to me. I resolved to walk before he got himself fired.
“I’m alright,” I said slinging my bag onto my arm. It disappeared as quickly as I had tossed it. Nicholas was suddenly securing it over his own shoulder.
“What are you doing?” I accused.
“I’m giving you a ride home.”
The sight of his magnificent dimple caused a cloud to settle on my brain. He turned to leave and I followed along, incoherent. His jeep was pulled up on the curb outside the building. Nicholas hefted my things into the back and opened the passenger door.
“What were you doing here alone?” His voice was protective, and I blushed.
“I wasn’t alone.” As soon as I said it, I knew it wasn’t true, not anymore. The campus was deserted.
“You shouldn’t be out alone,” he cautioned, pulling away from the building and heading directly to my apartment.
“Right, the Ohio Valley is a real crime mecca.” I rolled my eyes, but he glared. His consternation was evident.
“You need to be careful.” He warned again.
“You keep saying that.” I looked him full in the face. I knew that I was blushing, but I also knew that he had a secret.
His eyes burned into mine for a long beat, and then he pulled the jeep onto the sidewalk in front of my building. The night had just gotten very interesting.
“Elle, there’s a very dangerous man somewhere nearby. You’ve seen the news?” One eyebrow rose slightly.
“What does that have to do with me?” I asked incredulously. “You can’t drive everyone home from the library.”
His face went flat. I took advantage and pressed further.
“How did you know where I lived?”
Nicholas stared. His eyes were narrow. He was thinking, struggling.
Before he could answer any one of my questions, I blurted, “I know your secret,” nearly daring him to deny it. My mind was full of questions. They kept falling out. “Why send a Marshal? Why not the F.B.I.?”
“Marshals are assigned to witness protection details.” He didn’t deny it. He was no professor.
“He’s looking for a witness to something?” I asked about this ‘dangerous’ man. I tried to concentrate on something other than Nicholas’ smoldering green eyes.
“Yes, Elle,” he stated poignantly. “He’s looking for you.”